Worth Reading 20060722
Fred Halliday Visits Hezbollah in Lebanon

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?

Some time ago, I was asked why I no longer presume that Washington Post reporters "trying, hard, to do their jobs and, perhaps on deadline, [fall] short of the ideal."

Here is part of the answer: because of reporters like Tom Ricks. Via Billmon, who compares Tom Ricks of the Washington Post today:

Whiskey Bar: Department of the Bleedin' Obvious: [T]here is also strong evidence, based on a review of thousands of military documents and hundreds of interviews with military personnel, that the U.S. approach to pacifying Iraq in the months after the collapse of Hussein helped spur the insurgency and made it bigger and stronger than it might have been...

With Tom Ricks of the Washington Post in July 2003:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A54345-2003Jul27?language=printer: As Iraqi fighters launched guerrilla strikes, the U.S. Army adopted a more nimble approach against unseen adversaries and found new ways to gather intelligence about them, according to dozens of soldiers and officers interviewed over the last week.... At the same time, the frequency of attacks has declined in the area northwest of Baghdad dominated by Iraq's Sunni minority, long a base of support for Hussein.... That decrease is leading senior commanders here to debate whether the war is nearly over...

And in September of 2003:

Senior U.S. commanders here are so confident about their recent successes that they have begun debating whether victory is in sight. "I think we're at the hump" now, a senior Central Command official said. "I think we could be over the hump fairly quickly" -- possibly within a couple of months, he added...

Billmon observes:

I could go on and on, but really, what's the point? Only that Ricks is as responsible as anyone for leading the American people (and the military itself) to believe the war was being won -- quickly and decisively...

If there is a hint of apology for his earlier work in Ricks's book, nobody has mentioned it to me. Everybody working for the Post needs to think very hard about what kind of organization they are working for, and whether they are going to try to fix it or bail out.